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topic 8286

Patio Set (Aluminum vs. Coated Steel)



I am getting ready to buy an outdoor patio set. I found two different sets that I like one is aluminum and one is coated steel. I like the steel one the best but I have heard that aluminum won't rust. Will the coated steel rust? What are the differences and which is the better choice?

Thank you for any info you have! Amy Higgs
- Denver, Colorado


Aluminum won't "rust", but it will corrode. Both will corrode over time since they'll be outside. How long depends on numerous factors: the quality of the paint, thickness, quality of the pretreatment, the environment, alloy used, etc.

How long your equipment will last is unknown. It was most likely coated at a job shop. Some job shops conduct outstanding pretreatment and use quality paint. Others, wipe off the dirt and spray on the cheapest paint that will stick.

My personal choice would be aluminum since it will (theoretically) form an oxide layer that helps reduce corrosion. Plus, if it does corrode, it's not as apparent as red rust. I'd also imagine aluminum to be lighter than steel, assuming the same design.

Christian M. Restifo
Circle-Prosco, Inc. - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


I live on a salt-water lagoon and can certainly echo what Mr. Restifo says about coating quality being the most important parameter!

We bought some painted steel folding lounge chairs for our patio last year and, without exaggeration, rust was seriously discoloring the paint in two weeks. Unfortunately, we had thrown away all the packing materials and labels by then.

We also bought a steel 'umbrella table' and set of six chairs, and have seen no signs of rust yet even after leaving them out near the salt water all winter.

Think about your car, which is steel, and which can last years outdoors without rust despite every kind of adverse situation from overheating to gravel chips to road salt to sub zero temperatures.

Buy the patio set you like, with confidence that it should give you no trouble regardless of what metal it is made of. But if the finish proves shameful, show them your letter here and tell them to take it back. And if they won't, include all the particulars on your next letter smiley Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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